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Like a puppy chasing its tail, some new investors often chase 'the next big thing', even if that means buying 'story stocks' without revenue, let alone profit. But the reality is that when a company loses money each year, for long enough, its investors will usually take their share of those losses.
In the age of tech-stock blue-sky investing, my choice may seem old fashioned; I still prefer profitable companies like EPAM Systems (NYSE:EPAM). Even if the shares are fully valued today, most capitalists would recognize its profits as the demonstration of steady value generation. Loss-making companies are always racing against time to reach financial sustainability, but time is often a friend of the profitable company, especially if it is growing.
EPAM Systems's Earnings Per Share Are Growing.
As one of my mentors once told me, share price follows earnings per share (EPS). That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. It certainly is nice to see that EPAM Systems has managed to grow EPS by 32% per year over three years. So it's not surprising to see the company trades on a very high multiple of (past) earnings.
I like to take a look at earnings before interest and (EBIT) tax margins, as well as revenue growth, to get another take on the quality of the company's growth. EPAM Systems maintained stable EBIT margins over the last year, all while growing revenue 19% to US$2.6b. That's a real positive.
You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. Click on the chart to see the exact numbers.
You don't drive with your eyes on the rear-view mirror, so you might be more interested in this free report showing analyst forecasts for EPAM Systems's future profits.
Are EPAM Systems Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?
We would not expect to see insiders owning a large percentage of a US$18b company like EPAM Systems. But we are reassured by the fact they have invested in the company. Notably, they have an enormous stake in the company, worth US$639m. I would find that kind of skin in the game quite encouraging, if I owned shares, since it would ensure that the leaders of the company would also experience my success, or failure, with the stock.
It means a lot to see insiders invested in the business, but I find myself wondering if remuneration policies are shareholder friendly. Well, based on the CEO pay, I'd say they are indeed. I discovered that the median total compensation for the CEOs of companies like EPAM Systems, with market caps over US$8.0b, is about US$11m.
The EPAM Systems CEO received total compensation of just US$4.3m in the year to . That's clearly well below average, so at a glance, that arrangement seems generous to shareholders, and points to a modest remuneration culture. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.
Does EPAM Systems Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?
For growth investors like me, EPAM Systems's raw rate of earnings growth is a beacon in the night. If you need more convincing beyond that EPS growth rate, don't forget about the reasonable remuneration and the high insider ownership. This may only be a fast rundown, but the takeaway for me is that EPAM Systems is worth keeping an eye on. Don't forget that there may still be risks. For instance, we've identified 1 warning sign for EPAM Systems that you should be aware of.
Of course, you can do well (sometimes) buying stocks that are not growing earnings and do not have insiders buying shares. But as a growth investor I always like to check out companies that do have those features. You can access a free list of them here.
Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction.
This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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